The state probation office in Brevard County received a call on Wednesday that included a threat to blow up the office. The office was quickly shut down, and BCSO and the FBI came in to investigate- they had a K-9 unit sweep the office for explosive devices. Fortunately, none were found.
Juan Christian, via DOC
Officers were able to trace the call, even though it was from a restricted number, and it led them to Juan Christian, a 38-year-old Sanford man. It just so happened that not only was Christian on probation, but he had missed his appointment that day for his drug test. He is on probation for drug sales, false imprisonment and battery. Officers met with him and he admitted to calling in the threat because he was afraid of being violated. Now, not only is he facing a probation violation for additional reasons, he has new felony charges for the terror threat.
It’s not the first time, and there was a case several years back in Fort Myers where a man actually burned down the probation office. That case was even more tragic, as the fire also burned a kennel in the building, killing several dogs. I was unable, and I can’t remember, if that culprit was ever caught, but it didn’t destroy many probation files, since they are digitally stored in a central location. In researching that, I came across a story I was unfamiliar with, where the Fort Myers DEA office was bombed. That was in retaliation for a man who had been indicted, and Jeffrey Matthews, the “Fort Myers Bomber” was caught and sentenced to life in prison for those and other offenses. As usual, the cover up is often worse than the underlying crime.
Posted in Criminal Law, Drugs, Federal, Fort Myers / Lee County / Southwest Florida #SWFL, Terror
Tagged arson, brevard, cocoa beach, doc, fort myers, jeffrey matthews, juan christian, probation, Terror, terrorism, threat
Derrick Irving and John Silvia
The story is literally in the headline. A DeLand, Florida man was alerted by his home surveillance system had been triggered. He went to check the camera, and saw that it had been covered with a towel, so he called 911. Officers responded and stopped a red Navigator leaving the area. Inside was the victim’s ex-boyfriend Derrick Irving. Irving was wearing a bull onesie, for some reason. He and the passenger in the car, John Silvia, had broken into the house and stolen a TV and several other items. Officers also noticed drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.
Officers also noticed an empty jar of Ragu pasta sauce. That didn’t make sense until deputies went to the house and found that Irving and Silvia had left a pot of sauce on the stove and a towel draped over it, which had just caught fire. Deputies put out the fire, and charged Irving and Silvia with Burglary, Grand Theft, and Arson. Both defendants apparently had a prior sexual relationship with the victim.
NBC did a follow-up story on the case of Marian Williams, charged with 3 counts of First Degree Murder for the young boys that died in a fire she allegedly started. She’s also charged with arson and attempted murder. I spoke to NBC about some of her prior history. She’s being held in the Desoto County jail without bond.
via NBC-2: http://www.nbc-2.com/clip/13170970/memorial-growing-questions-piling-up-about-alleged-arsonists-past
Marian E. Williams
I spoke with NBC-2 this afternoon about the tragic Arson case in Arcadia where three little boys were killed. I’m not handling the case, but the news wanted to do a little color on Habitual Offenders and what her prior record means. Long story short- Marian Williams is facing a mandatory life sentence due to the First Degree Murder charges, and the State could potentially seek the death penalty. The DOC web page indicates she has already been to prison 7 different times, the last one for Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. She could qualify as a Habitual Offender, and is unlikely to ever be released from custody.
Watch for me on NBC-2 during the 6 o’clock hour and see if my clip makes the air!
Michael Spiegel Mug Shot
In a creepy twist to a gruesome double homicide at Fort Myers Beach last night, the deputies say they found a vibrator, lubricant, and sexual arousal medication on suspect Michael Spiegel, in addition to a gun, bloody knife, zip ties and duct tape. Spiegel, 70, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the death of his ex-wife Marilyn Spiegel and her fiance Harry Carlip. The couple was supposed to get married tomorrow (May 17).
Deputies caught Michael Spiegel walking away from the boat where the couple resided, wearing a long trenchcoat and carrying a briefcase. Witnesses indicate he was at the marina the day before, asking which boat was theirs. The stove burners were left on, which started a fire that deputies were able to extinguish. Spiegel is being held without bond on both murder counts, plus an additional arson charge.
Coupled with the capture of most-wanted fugitive Wesnel Isaac, on the lam for seven years, Lee County may have picked up two death penalty arrests in one night.
Wesnel Isaac Wanted Poster
Wesnel Isaac Now
#sexcrime #swfl #graymenace
Posted in Criminal Law, Florida, Fort Myers / Lee County / Southwest Florida #SWFL, Gray Menace
Tagged arson, gray menace, haiti, lehigh acres, michael spiegel, murder, sexcrime, wesnel isaac
The Court of Appeal for the Second District of Florida ruled Friday that the arson and defrauding an insurer convictions for a Cape Coral man should be overturned. Jesus Perez was convicted in Lee County after a fire burned his house down. The case was circumstantial: while there was no doubt a fire occurred, there was no direct evidence that Perez started the fire. The Second District simply found that the evidence simply did not show that he started the fire, much less that he did so intentionally. While one of the samples taken by investigators showed the possibility of gasoline, the control sample also showed the same, which indicates that both were contaminated.
Jesus Ventura Perez
How did Mr. Perez end up being convicted, and sentenced to prison, on such thin evidence. The reality of the system is that while defendants are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, the assumption often works against them. Perez had no way to prove how the fire started. Juries often want to give the state and its investigators the benefit of the doubt. As a society, we want to have faith in the those who are supposed to protect and serve. Unfortunately, that often means the presumption of innocence is more of a nice idea, than a reality. Fortunately for Mr. Perez, the appellate system granted relief in the end.
The State can ask for a rehearing, or appeal the case to the Florida Supreme Court, but barring a major change, the conviction will be reversed. Mr. Perez has already served nearly two years in prison, but is will get him out earlier, and he will not have to serve the 10 years of probation that had been ordered to follow his incarceration. That’s a big win for my friends at Brown, Suarez & Rios, who handled the appeal.